Spring may be officially here, but winter is making a comeback in southeastern Saskatchewan this week.
A winter storm watch is in effect for areas including Carlyle, Estevan, Weyburn, Moosomin, Grenfell and Kipling. This major spring blizzard is set to pummel areas of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.
“Expect widespread power outages, travel closures and road closures across the area. This one is going to be potentially one of the biggest snowstorms we have seen in years for the southeast,” said Global News meteorologist Peter Quinlan.
Widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 50 centimetres are expected in Saskatchewan along with northerly winds gusting from 70 to 90 km/h, which means people could face zero visibility at times.
Manitoba could see up to 80 cm of snow.
According to Environment Canada, a Colorado low will move toward Minnesota on Tuesday night, bringing heavy snow to southeastern Saskatchewan through most of southern Manitoba.
The snow will start Tuesday evening near the U.S. border and push north through the evening.
Wednesday morning, heavy snow will be falling in most of southeast Saskatchewan where the winter storm watch areas are in effect and will remain in the area until Friday morning.
“The major cities like Saskatoon and Regina are just on the edge of this system so no super significant impacts expected there,” said Quinlan.
Environment Canada warns that travel will be difficult throughout Wednesday and highways are expected to be closed in some areas.
The mayor of Estevan insists his city will be ready.
“We have the privilege of having a lot of experienced staff on board. They’ve already been put on notice as far as equipment, graters, anything to do with snow removal,” said Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig.
Wednesday evening travel may be impossible, even within short commutes. Residents are told this will continue into Thursday.
“A very serious situation where we are talking near zero visibilities through an extended period of time so nothing to be toyed with,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Terri Lang.
Environment Canada recommends people in these areas avoid travel as the storm could be the worst in decades.
“If you’re planning a trip in the next day or two please do not. Please be ready if it does get a little bit rough to stay at home,” pleaded Ludwig.
“Make plans accordingly to stay at home for the next few days unless you absolutely have to go out.”
Residents of the affected areas should gather supplies now and plan to stay in one place for a few days, Environment Canada warns. Power outages could occur during this time.
“They should be prepared. They should have their 72-hour emergency kit stocked up and ready to go and be prepared to perhaps not even have power. That’s certainly a possibility but expect to be storm-stayed at least for a couple days,” said Lang.
Storms like this that may seem out of place seasonally aren’t new in Saskatchewan.
“This is quite common on the prairies. We get our heaviest snow falls in the spring and in the fall. What’s happening is because the warmer air is starting to sneak up from the south – we’ve already had some really nice days – but the arctic air is still lingering to the north so when you combine those two and it happens over Saskatchewan or Manitoba that’s what happens. You tend to get these very strong storms,” explained Lang.
Environment Canada says people should prepare by making an emergency kit that includes food, water, medicine, warm clothing, a flashlight and a first-aid kit.
Winds are expected to taper off Friday and snow will move into northern Ontario.
More information can be found on Environment Canada’s website.